<bgsound src="http://www.ijigg.com/songs/V2BFBCGCPAD" > My Big Big Adventure: September 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My Korean Experience

New friends I met in Korea
(from left): Peter (Hong Kong), two girls (US), ShaoRong, Qiu Zhen (Shanghai, Osaka); my brother, QinYun (Taiwan), Qian Da Zhong (Korean-guide) and me

It has been a delightful journey to Korea. My brother and I have basically travelled eight places: Suwon, Cheongju, Guangju, Jeju, Busan, Gyeongju, Jinju and Seoul. It was a fascinating journey. Not only we got to see the local heritage there (mostly accredited by UNESCO), but also enjoy the beautiful scenery in the 70% covered by greens South Korea.
The more I travel, the more I realised that there are so many things that are better elsewhere then home, and vice versa at places. In Korea, it's the same. It makes me reflect on what I have appreciated things in life so far in Malaysia, and things that I can improve after so many observations from abroad. It's an eye-opener, I must say.

Biwon, a beauty garden in the palace

The best two things I have enjoyed most besides the sightseeing are savouring the local delicacies and making new friends. It has been my hobby since I have started to travel. Of course not all journey will end up with loads of people whom you wanted to be friended with, but at least I do make an effort to get to know people, though there are some nasty ones. I have befriended a couple from Shanghai, a youngman from Hong Kong, two men from Taiwan. Mostly Asian. Maybe it's difficult to find "guai lo" there, and you won't have problem finding Japanese and China Chinese. It has been a great pleasure meeting them and we exchanged emails too. It has been a wonderful experience meeting people.

Food is great there. Since rice has become a staple for Asian, it does not pose much problem to me. I have always enjoy local food, except insects (which some countries do view them as sweets or snacks). In Korea, you will get mostly rice-related food plus other side dishes (loads of them). To me, Korean and Chinese has something in common -- waste of food. At times, I feel so sorry for not finishing all the dishes served. But then again, why make your stomache suffer for what other people's culture call for? I just eat the portion that my stomache could fill. Overall, I enjoyed eating very much.

In Korea, I noticed there are at things that every places have: lots of mountains, people are friendly, honest and sincere but do not speak English, very nationalist, like to brush teeth at least 3 times a day, like Kimchi very much (they even have Kimchi refridgerator by LG and Samsung), plastic surgery can be done during lunch break, preservation for heritage, expensive petrol price (4th in the world), lots of expensive food and so many more.

Travelling to Korea was fun and exciting, not to mention the exhaustion my brother has casted upon me (with the walking). But it's all worth it in the end. I began to love this country even more now.

Korean High Speed Network

I am so surprised when I went shopping in Korea using my credit card. Everything is so damn fast! I am sure fellow Malaysians who have experienced a wait-in-line for the credit card machine to churn out the piece of receipt. 2 minutes to 5 minutes wait then the machine slowly "tuuuutuuuuu" out the the receipt for customers to sign on it. But, the scenario is different in Korea. It is almost in instand speed - within 1 minute. For a foreign card like mine. And I only need to sign on the small writing electronic pad. Instant record!

A second observation I have found is that the internet line speed there. In normal broadband speed here in Malaysia is 100 mbps (that's for the leaseline), but Korea normal internet line is already 100x faster than y0u have found here in Malaysia. a 1-hour movie download takes only 15 minutes (here, you need at least half a day to do it).

I was really amazed!

Perhaps government might want to look at upgrading the network infrastructure in the country for a change?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Korean and their Toothbrush

I noticed one thing in common for Korean: they brush their teeth all the time, be it women or men. It's amazing to note how they carry their toothbrush everywhere they go: office, handbags, subway, bus, restaurant, you name it.

I guess it's a courtesy for them to smell refreshing all the time. That's a small culture reference I have found facinating in them.

Maybe Malaysian need to practise this?

Not a chance.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Seomyeon Night Activity

Seomyeon, a place similar to Petaling street and Low Yat plaza combined, only better because you will see lots of fancy shops with lots of youngster pouring in from nowhere. I guess the beauty of the place is that it is still vibrant though late into the nights.

Great bargains are offered here, and I got myself a necklace rack, which is hardly found in Malaysia for 9000 won. Quite expensive, because I did not manage to negotiate much due to my limited vocabulary in the language. But, I am overall in glee for my new found treasure.

Late supper was a hot spicy chicken dish ala chinese. It is really really hot hot hot. If you are real spicy hot food lover, you will love this; otherwise, you will be like me, drinking lots of water to cool the heat. A piece of advice: take the potatoes and the chicken only if you cannot endure the flaming flavour of the dish; the noodle is, my god, really hot. You will hear sizzling sound from the mouth. But, quite exciting to try that out.

Soemyeon is simply a lively place to be. I must say, after travelling for a week, I finally see how a big city looks like for now. Wait until I see the real big megacity like Seoul in the coming days. I am sure I will be at awe with the population there.

Traffic Jam in Busan

Housing 4 million people in the second largest city of Korea, Busan, I am not surprised to see massive traffics around. However, it is quite the contrary.

Yesterday, we went to Jinju, just an hour and a half journey away from Busan to view the beautiful old castle and the surrounding compound. Very serene and beautiful housing the history of the invasion from Japan in 1592.

On our way back in the evening for our bus home to Busan, we noticed there was a massive jam built up in the rural highland road, which I do not understand why the driver took the road. We were stuck in the jam for two hours and a half before approaching to the highway leading back to Busan. The long journey spelled agony for people, especially for working folks and students from their respective hometowns to the city. For us, it's the pain in the ass (just physical expression, hahaha).

I guess the bottleneck was due to the massive traffics suddenly poured in from everywhere to a small town and the two-lane country road could not handle the massive traffic at one go. The city's traffic still remained smooth flowing. I wonder how they do that? In Malaysia, you could hardly see this. It's an eye-opener for me.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Trip to Guangju, Korea

It has been a rainy affair as I have mentioned in my previous post. And by far, the most enjoyable and fulfilling trip on the west of Korea is at Guangju.

My friend, Ian, was a very good host to me and my brother during the trip there. We had delicious dinners at his aunt's house just five minute away, and a roof-top view at his grandmother's home. Cosy I must say, but truly, I am grateful. This dear friend of mine was willing to take his time off from his medical class to accompany us to Damyang, the bamboo city.

We were even introduced the May 18 movement, a famous incident happened in Guangju. What make this incident more memorable to a guest like me was that we have visited many places in relations to the incident, and complete the whole journey with a recently released movie "Splendid Holiday" in Korean. Very insightful.

It's a good trip to go, and furthermore, I could introduce this nice friend to you too.

Flight Attendants

"...... kamsahamnida, thank you for flying with Asiana Air..." or even "thank you for flying with MAS airlines" sounded lifeless these days. What happened to the clear messege from the service greeting flight attendants?

I am not sure whether you have noticed that whenever you fly to another country, the English version seems to be a bit gibberish sounding, and unclear. Yes, I am referring to foreign flights, especially to the orient.

With the local accent, it is quite funny to note the sounding of the English words sound. Furthermore, I don't even know what the flight attendant over the speaker briefed about.

I guess lots of work needed for our pretty dolls in the air to brush up their English to meet the demand of global travel from people around the world.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rainy Affair in Korea

It was raining when I touched down in Incheon Airport, Korea. Like my newly met Korean friends said, they seem to agree that my schedule is met with abundance of wealth, similar to Korean's wishes of abundance in their mouth-watering dishes.

Commuting seems to be with us yesterday, my butt and legs started to ache. We had to bring our big luggage under the rain almost everywhere we go. Luckily, we met a good man who gave me his umbrella; also a young lady at the Korean tourism center in Suwon (famous place for grilled beef and an old town of old fort and castle) who shared a space for us to put our heavy luggage. I sincerely thanked these people who made great efforts to lessen our burden in this trip to a land of rain and gibberish language I do not comprehend.

Suwon is a place to historic. Currently, a big museum in underway, but you will note that the construction progress is quiet and clean, unlike those find in Malaysia. I wonder why. The restoration of some of the old structure, e.g. the forts, the gates and corn walls. In the guidebook as we read, we noted that there used to be a programme which encourage tourist to discover the old beauty of Suwon via the great walls of Suwon. If you could complete your walk from gate to gate, embracing the mountains with spectacular views of the serene clean Suwon river, town, and around the old castle, you would receive a certificate of accomplishment. But now there are too many people who attempted the estimated 5.5km journey, the programme has then stopped. An online blog we read, there was this mat-salleh who tried it by reading the old guide was cursing after attempting that effort of around Suwon in 3 hours, which he later found out that the programme was no longer exist. It was really funny.

I must say Korea is a hilly areas covered with moutains of greens, which are still preserved in good conditions. How I wish Malaysia would be the same in its environmental efforts as our Korean counterparts.

From Suwon to Cheong-ju, we finally found a place to put a night -- love hotel. This is not the typical love hotel you will find in Japan, but a decent place just like normal hotel with internet facility and porn. Hahaahaha. Simple clean room with all toiletries provided, what could I ask for. And reasonable price too. As I heard from my brother's reading, love hotel is common in Korea. You can find it everywhere here too in Cheong-ju. It's amazing to note how such a small town could accommodate many different variety of motels (that's what the English signs said for these love hotels). By the way, the "motel" is dark and quiet inside. Suitable for undisturbed night activities. :-)

This morning's weather looks wonderful. I will be on my way to meet my friend in Kwang-ju.

Lovely Korea, the journey has just begun.